Smartwatches are on their way to becoming the next big thing.
This is made evident by the growing hype for each new Apple Watch release. The Apple Watch Series 3 release in 2017 marked the first time that the iOS-powered wearable line would have standalone performance via embedded cellular service.
Going forward, this means that Apple Watch devices now have everything we asked for when they first came out. This includes robust fitness sensors, multi-day battery life, and accessible displays.
The International Data Corporation (IDC) anticipates that 20% more wearable electronics will be shipped year over year, so folks should expect to start wearing their iwatches much more often. This also means that they should expect to protect their wearable tech from the wear and tear of daily use.
After all, they aren’t any less likely to be scratched or scuffed just because they’re strapped to our wrists.
With that said, a protective case is essential to keeping your Apple Watch looking good and running smoothly.
That’s why we’ve rounded up the best protective cases for Apple Watch Series 3 in both the 38mm and 42mm size.
And every previous generation of this device is the same size, so these cases also work if you have a Series 2 or Series 1 smartwatch as well.
What Are the Best Apple Watch Series 3/2/1 Cases?
1. Caseology Vault Series Apple Watch Case
If you have used a Vault Series case from Caseology for your smartphone, then you know that this case is basically the perfect balance between lightweight and rugged.
Its shock absorbing TPU edges stick out a bit over the bezel to fully protect each corner, but this only slightly increases the bulk of your watch face.
Plus, it leaves your digital crown, speaker, microphone, and heart rate monitor still easily accessible thanks to precise cutouts.
2. Spigen Rugged Armor Apple Watch Case
Spigen makes some of the best cases for Apple Watch models ranging back to the very first release. Their Rugged Armor case is a time-tested pick, as it is also a popular pick for protecting smartphones.
Its tough looking design is similar to that of the Caseology Vault Case, except this Spigen case has a metallic looking button cover for a little extra flair.
Its raised edges help protect your screen, and give it some of that iconic G-Shock style.
3. Benuo Defender Series Clear Apple Watch Case
If you want to maintain the naked beauty of your Apple Watch without leaving it vulnerable to scratches and scuffs, this clear defender case from Benuo is a perfect choice.
Benuo’s clear case wraps around the watch to cover both its screen and its corners with a thin protective layer.
It protects from scratches without interfering with the touch screen or cellular antenna. And it shows off the beautiful stainless steel body that other cases would hide.
The only downside to this case’s closed design is that it can easily trap humidity, so don’t take this one to the gym.
4. X-Doria Defense Edge Apple Watch Case
X-Doria’s Defense Edge Apple Watch case is a stylish protective option that sets itself apart with a machined aluminum exterior.
All parts that come in contact with your watch are coated with a shock absorbing rubber lining, while the exterior accents helps maintain the Apple Watch’s signature look.
This case snaps on with ease and protects your watch from all sides. Its screen bezel is not particularly large, so definitely consider a screen protector for this one.
5. Simpeak Grey Rugged Protective Case
This sporty protective case from Simpeak is an awesome deal to protect your 42mm Apple Watch.
It comes with a slip-on protective cover, a matching watch band, and an adhesive screen protector give your watch the full treatment.
Despite its slightly bulkier look, it still leaves interfaces the like the digital crown and heart rate monitor easily accessible.
Just note that this case does not have a 38mm equivalent, so if you own this smaller watch size, you’ll have to browse further.
Price: $13.98 (52 percent off MSRP)
6. iitee Universal Slim Apple Watch Case
The iitee Universal Slim Apple Watch Case offers all of the same premium protective features as other top case brands, without costing a premium price.
On sale for under $10, you are getting an awesome deal for this slim and durable TPU case. It offers impact resistance and raised edges to protect your touchscreen.
This case comes in a variety of colors too, making it easy to find one that matches your favorite watch band.
7. BRG Apple Watch Case
This protective case for the Apple Watch definitely takes a cue from Apple’s Nike+ Watch, with its complementary color scheme and sleek design.
The snap-on protective cover alone is worth the price of this accessory, since it protects your watch from drops and scratches without increasing bulk.
But this case ups the ante by including a breathable silicone watch band that is perfect for going on a running or hitting the gym.
Price: $10.99 (42 percent off MSRP)
8. Fintie Ultra Slim Apple Watch Case 6-Pack
If your favorite part about covering your Apple Watch is fitting your timepiece with a variety of new styles, then consider a value pack of generic cases like this one from Fintie.
This six-pack of polycarbonate cases offers basic protection for your Apple Watch in a variety of different colors.
The cases are somewhat simple, and won’t offer the same impact cushioning as higher end choices, but they still stand to offer the best price value for a watch cover.
Price: $9.99 (50 percent off MSRP)
9. Speck CandyShell Fit Case
Speck’s CandyShell Fit Case is a stylish and colorful way to protect your Apple Watch from bumps and scratches.
This durable design protects your watch from all sides. It absorbs shock well, while remaining easy to take off and on.
It’s been stress tested to withstand extreme temperatures, and won’t crack under pressure. Note that this model does not come with a band, despite being pictured as such.
Price: $17.66 (29 percent off MSRP)
Price: $19.99 (20 percent off MSRP)
10. Umtele Rugged Protective Case and Band
This rugged dual layer case from Umtele is an inexpensive solution to the fact that you keep knocking your watch against the doorknob.
This sporty looking case offers full protection for your watch, and comes with a nice suite of accessories at a low price.
When you get the Umtele case, you also get two protective films for your screen, and a matching watch band with a metallic clasp.
After opening your wallet up for the Apple Watch, this awesome deal might be just what you need.
11. Spigen Tough Armor 2nd Gen Case
Spigen’s Tough Armor case isn’t much different from its Rugged Armor series, aside from its slightly more spartan look.
However, the inclusion of a snap-on PC front plate means that this dual layer case is better suited to resist scratches and hold your Apple Watch snugly in place.
This design comes at the cost of flexibility, as in you won’t be able to swap out cases as easily. Of course, if you only need one Apple Watch case, then this one will work perfectly.
12. Catalyst Waterproof Apple Watch Case
Considering that the Apple Watch Series 3 is already durable and water-resistant, this fully sealed waterproof case from Catalyst may feel like overkill.
But, really, do you actually trust this metric enough to take your Apple Watch swimming? With the Catalyst case, you certainly will, as it is IP-68 tested against intrusion of water and dust.
That means the crown control is covered, and the screen is fully sealed behind a scratch-resistant surface. This hardly affects the user experience though, aside from the fact that you’ll feel more courageous bringing your Apple Watch along on your next adventure.
It also comes with a band to complete the look.
13. Supcase Unicorn Beetle Pro Case
Supcase’s Unicorn Beetle design has earned my reccomendation numerous times as a protective case for different phone models.
Now that it is available for 38mm and 42mm Apple Watch designs, you can use its efficient bumper case shape on your wearable devices.
The UB Pro offers extra protection around the watch face’s edges, where it is most likely to be dropped. It gives it a sporty look with carbon fiber accents, and an included strap, which is great for athletic use.
14. i-Blason New Unity Series Case
i-Blason’s updated Unity Series Apple Watch case is a great choice for on the go users who need rugged protection for a day full of phrenetic activities.
It is a case and a watch band in one, which they call a bumper band. So no, you can’t mix and match watch bands with this case, but you will get maximum shock absorption, as the top part of the band is rigid enough to further disperse shock.
Note that i-Blason hasn’t released a 38mm of this updated bumper band, so their 38mm version of the Unity case is still made from the lower quality plastic used in their previous product generation.
15. Smiling Clear Protective Case
Smiling’s Clear Protective Case is a simple TPU cover for your watch face, with some slight color added to the area that covers the watch body in order to blend in.
It is only 0.3mm thin, which adds hardly any bulk while still offering some noteworthy protection from drops and scratches.
It has precise cutouts for controls and ports, and you will hardly notice it is there once you apply it.
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